The Temptation, and Christ's Ministry in Galilee.
SUMMARY.--Jesus in the Wilderness.
The Temptation to Convert Stones into Bread.
The Temptation to Cast Himself from the Temple.
The Offer of Worldly Power and Glory.
The Galilean Ministry.
Preaching and Healing.
The Fame of Christ.
1. Then was Jesus led of the Spirit.
says he was driven by the Spirit, a phrase that indicates a
sudden and forcible impulsion.
Into the wilderness. Tradition has placed the scene of Christ's
temptation in that part of the wilderness of Judea which lies between
Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, and particularly in the mountain called
Quarantania, from this forty days' fast.
To be tempted. Christ must be tempted--1. Because it was
impossible that one who came to overthrow the kingdom of Satan should
not be attacked by the great adversary at the very threshold. 2. It
was to test him. 3. It was to prepare him, by being tempted like as
we are, and yet gaining the victory, to "succor them that are tempted."
4. It was to set an example for us when we are tempted. The three great
temptations mentioned by Matthew are the three great classes of
temptations to which men are now exposed.
Of the devil. Here the existence and personality of Satan are
placed before us in the most distinct language. The devil is, (1) A
(Eph. 2:2; 6:12;
Heb. 2:14; Jude 6);
(2) A fallen angel
2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6).
The word devil means false accuser.
2. When he had fasted forty days and forty nights. Moses and
Elijah each fasted for the same length of time. It was a period of
spiritual exaltation, of meditation and prayer, of preparation for his
work, and it is hardly probable that he felt the need of food.
He was afterward an hungered. At the close of this period nature
began to assert her demands, and hunger was keenly felt.
3. The tempter came to him. The devil. He chose his time
craftily, as he always does when he assails man. Whether he came in a
personal form or as the whisper of the evil spirit is uncertain.
If the Son of God. "If" suggests a doubt, and, perhaps, a
taunt. It is a cunning appeal to Christ to work a miracle to satisfy
his hunger and to display his power. It would seem an innocent thing
for Christ to make bread when he was hungry, for himself, as he
afterwards did for the five thousand. Why not? Because if he had
availed himself of his Divine power to escape the discomforts and
sufferings of humanity he would have failed to suffer as we do, to set
us an example in all things, to be tempted in all points as we are;
and besides, he "came to minister,"
never to use his Divine power for their own benefit. To have so
exerted it for selfish and vainglorious purposes would have been
sinful, and a distrust of God. Christ came to save others, not
himself. Self-denial was the law of his mission.
4. It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone. The Lord
uses the sword of the Spirit in his reply. The word quoted, found in
should be used in its connection, in order to comprehend
But by every word, etc. The meaning is: If it pleases God to
sustain by other means than bread, it will be done. His word can be
trusted. God fed Israel with manna, sent by his word, and we can trust
5. Then the devil taketh him into the holy city. What way the
devil took him, whether bodily or in spirit, we are not told.
On a pinnacle of the temple. The only portion of the temple
that seems to answer to the context was the lofty porch overhanging
the valley of Kedron. Josephus says that from the roof to the valley
below at this point was 300 feet.
6. If thou be the Son of God cast thyself down. Again the
doubt is implied and the taunt uttered. Jesus had expressed his trust
in the word of God. The devil now asks him to go from the extreme of
distrust to that of rashly tempting God. It was, perhaps, the demand
so often repeated and always refused, "to show a sign from heaven,"
to make a display of his power to secure popular applause. Perhaps the
evil spirit whispered to him to perform one stupendous miracle in
Jerusalem, in the presence of all people, and to secure such fame that
he would reach the throne without treading the thorny way of the cross.
To have done so would have robbed the world of its Savior. "It behooved
him to die, and to rise again."
He shall give his angels charge concerning thee. The enemy,
like a false adviser, quotes from
to justify his request, but he garbled the Scripture, leaving out "to
keep thee in all thy ways," which follows the first clause. The promise
is limited to those who walk in the way appointed to them.
7. Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again the Savior
replies in the words of Scripture, this time quoting from
There is no argument, but a simple reply that shows what is asked is
8. Taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain. From some
lofty center he spreads before Jesus a panorama of the kingdoms of
this world with all their glory. We are not to suppose that all the
kingdoms were literally visible, but they are portrayed in such a way
as to be present to the mental eyes.
9. All these things will I give thee. All disguise is laid
aside. Satan claims to be the Prince of the world and the disposer of
human kingdoms. Jesus came to be a King, but the pathway to the crown
is weary, painful, beset with thorns and blood. Satan proposes an
easier way. He will rally the Jewish nation around him, set him on the
throne of David, make him the Messiah King of the world, if he will
only consent to give up his idea of a spiritual kingdom, "not of this
and worship the god of this world by conforming his kingdom to the
worldly ideas of Israel. The temptation is to turn away from the path
of self-denial, the cross and the tomb, and to establish an outward,
10. Get thee hence, Satan. As the tempter was revealed Jesus
rebukes him. The
"Get thee hence," "begone," expresses abhorrence. The adversary is
called by name and bidden to depart. Then his reason is added, in the
words of Scripture, found in
Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou
serve. This passage forbids every kind of religious
adoration to any other object than Jehovah, whether it be idols, false
gods, popes, Virgin Mary, saints, or angels. The three temptations had
been met, three times the tempter had been baffled, three times the
victory had been won. The first assault had been made through the door
of appetite, "the lust of the flesh;" the second through vain glory,
"the lust of the eyes;" the third through ambition, "the pride of
All had appealed to Jesus to turn away from the pathway of self-denial
and suffering marked out for him. All had been met by the shield of
faith, and the tempter beaten back by the word of the Spirit.
11. Then the devil leaveth him.
adds, "for a season."
When the devil is resisted he always flees.
Angels came and ministered to him. When he fought off the
tempter, after the victory was won, angels came to minister to him. I
suppose this ministry was to supply him with food, but they also would
afford spiritual sympathy.
12. Now when he heard that John was delivered up. A long period
lapses between the temptation and the next event recorded. Matthew
does not try to follow the order of events, and he now passes over more
than a year. This year had been actively employed. The intervening
events are, (1) the return of Jesus from the wilderness to Bethabara,
where the first disciples are called
(2) the return to Galilee and the miracle at Cana
(3) the first passover of the Lord's ministry in Jerusalem and the
(4) interview with Nicodemus
(5) ministry in Judea
(6) leaves for Galilee, passes through Samaria, conversation at Sychar
(7) heals nobleman's son
(8) a period of retirement in Galilee, John imprisoned
(9) attends feast in Jerusalem, miracle at pool of Bethesda
(10) returns to Galilee, April A. D. 28. We thus see that an
interval of more than a year elapsed between the temptation and the
imprisonment of John. John was thrown into prison because he rebuked
(Matt. 14:4; Mark 6:17).
Withdrew into Galilee. From prudence
Christ had been teaching in Judea
13. Leaving Nazareth. Because rejected there
Dwelt in Capernaum. At that time a city of 30,000 inhabitants on
the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was one of the chief
cities of Galilee, had a synagogue, a Roman garrison, and a customs
station, with Matthew as the tax gatherer. It has long since
disappeared. It was called "Christ's own city"
because he made it an earthly home. It was on the border between the
tribes of Zebulon and Naphtali.
14. That it might be fulfilled. Matthew's way of saying: "Thus
was fulfilled." The passage quoted is found in
Isaiah 9:1, 2.
15. By the way of the sea. The Sea of Galilee is meant.
16. The people. Those of the region just described.
Sitting in darkness. In religious ignorance.
Saw great light. Christ, the Light of the world. In the
teaching of Jesus in the region described by the prophet there was a
remarkable fulfillment of the prediction.
17. From that time. Probably from the time of the settlement of
Jesus in Capernaum.
Jesus began to preach. This is the beginning of the Galilean
And to say, Repent, etc. The
message that Jesus now preaches is identical with that of John the
He commands repentance, and declares the kingdom of heaven is at hand,
not yet come, but near. All is still preparatory. Jesus had not yet
declared himself as the Messiah.
18. Walking by the sea of Galilee. So named from the province
of Galilee on its western side. It is about thirteen miles long and
six miles wide in the widest place. The Jordan runs through it. On its
borders Jesus lived, taught, and did most of his miracles.
Saw two brethren. These two brethren, Peter and Andrew, were
Simon was the name of the first until Christ changed it to Cephas, or
Their home was at Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee
They had been John's disciples, but he directed them to Jesus.
They were fishers. A humble, but honorable, occupation.
19. Follow me. Already disciples, they were now called to
preparation for apostleship.
20. Straightway left their nets. They obeyed at once. Thus Christ
ought always to be obeyed. No excuses for delay were offered, or
should ever be.
21. Saw other two brethren. James and John, the sons of
Zebedee. They were fishermen also, are supposed to have been cousins
of Jesus, probably were already disciples
but were now called to preparation for their great work.
In a ship. A small fishing vessel. The Revision says, "boat,"
which gives the idea.
22. They left their father. At once. They had received a higher
call. No earthly preference can excuse a rejection of the call of
23. Jesus went about all Galilee. In the
next three verses
are condensed the labors and teaching of a long period, of which a
detailed account is given in the following chapters.
Teaching in their synagogues. The synagogues, the Jewish houses
of worship, where the Jews met every Sabbath, furnished Jesus a
congregation and a suitable place for teaching. It was customary to
read the Old Testament in course, and after the reading, a teacher or
a rabbi, was usually called on to speak. The custom gave Jesus, and
his apostles after him, a fine opportunity to declare the New
THE SYNAGOGUE is so often
named in the New Testament that one ought to clearly understand its
character. It corresponded to the Christian congregation.
Wherever ten Jews were found it was their duty to form a synagogue. It
had its elders, of whom the president was called the "ruler" of the
synagogue. The ruler presided over the worship, and all the elders sat
on raised seats. These were "the chief seats" that the Pharisees liked
to sit in.
There was a set lesson from the Scriptures for each Sabbath, for they
were read in order. The reader was appointed by the ruler and might be
any member. On one occasion we learn that Jesus was the reader. After
the reading and prayers there was an opportunity for any Jewish
theological teacher to speak. Of this opportunity Jesus, and later,
Paul often availed themselves. The service of the synagogue in our
times is, in many respects, similar to that of the time of Christ. The
officers of the synagogue had the power of scourging, of suspending, or
of excommunicating (casting out) offenders.*
Preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Gospel means "good news."
He announced the good news of the speedy advent of the long expected
kingdom of the Messiah. He did not, however, at this time proclaim
himself to be the Messiah.
Healing every sickness. He sympathized with all human
affliction and healed the body in order that he might heal the
24. His fame went through all Syria. The great Roman province
north and east of Palestine, and, at the time of our Savior, including
the latter. The cities of Damascus and Antioch were in the province.
Possessed with devils. The word demon is the correct
translation, and means an evil spirit. Persons were actually subject to
the control of demons. Of this there is the following proof: (1)
(2) Mind is not the source of blindness
(3) Insanity cannot divine
(4) Demons knew Jesus
(5) Jesus addresses the demons
(6) Demoniacs confess this control
(7) Apostles assert it
(8) Jesus admitted it
(9) Peter assures use of it
Lunatics. Epileptics in the Revision.
25. Great multitudes from Galilee. The fame of his teaching
and miracles caused great multitudes to gather from all Palestine.
Decapolis. A district containing ten cities east of the Jordan
and the Sea of Galilee. Notice, in the ministry of Jesus, (1) He was
active; (2) He went
where people were; (3) He went where the
busiest people were--fisherman, those at work, Simon and
Andrew--those preparing to work, James and John; (4) He went where
worshiping people were; (5) He went where
needy people were.
In the printed edition, this paragraph incongruously
appears at the end of the notes on the thirteenth chapter of Matthew.
Since the note on
refers to the note as appearing at
the paragraph has been moved to this more appropriate